Expand is a meditative video game in which you explore a circular labyrinth that constantly twists, stretches and expands around you.
User reviews:
Very Positive (77 reviews) - 93% of the 77 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Sep 30, 2015

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“This unique experience is well-paced, polished, and brimming with ideas, and backed by one of the best scores I’ve heard in years.”
8/10 – Cam Shea, IGN Australia

“Expand is a wonderfully original experience that defies easy definition, but when you play it, you will know. You will know you've played something special.”
Mark Serrels, Kotaku Australia

“Expand is fiendish and clever, but what really stands out about it is how curiously emotional the experience is. It's definitely one of the most interesting games being developed in Australia right now.”
James O'Connor, games on net

About This Game

Expand is a 2D indie minimalist game in which you guide a pink square through a circular labyrinth that constantly rotates, unfolds and expands around you. Navigate through a world that can easily lift as well as harm you, keeping you disorientated and unfamiliar in your surroundings.

A world set in five stages, Expand offers an atmospheric experience of exploration, discovery and introspection through gameplay and compelling soundtrack designed to immerse you deeply into its allegorical themes.

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows Vista
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 8800 or Radeon® HD4800 series, 512 MB of memory
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.9 - Mavericks
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
    • OS: Ubuntu 10.10 64bit
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz
    • Memory: 300 MB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 8800 or Radeon® HD4800 series, 512 MB of memory
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
Customer reviews
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Very Positive (77 reviews)
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68 reviews match the filters above ( Very Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 2
A cathartic minimalist game for late nights or Sunday mornings. Feels like it works at a preconscious level when you start to navigate the puzzles at speed. Lovely soundtrack too. Definitely recommended!
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: September 24
super interesting and trippy. slow mo super hexagons
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 9
Amazing experience. Not too hard, but hard enough. Relaxing and makes for a good theriputic distraction game without being boring or repetitive.

Such a unique game concept.

I'll probably replay this every few months.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
52 of 59 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 1, 2015
Video Review:


TLDR: Expand is an interesting and innovative little indie game that might not appeal to everyone. It's a relaxing game about exploration and puzzle solving and I have enjoyed my time with it. Considering the price, if you are looking for something to fill a couple of hours or relax with after a long day you can't go wrong.
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28 of 32 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
9.2 hrs on record
Posted: September 30, 2015
Follow me, says the game with a chime.

A week ago, I received an email from Expand developer Chris Johnson inviting me to play the game ahead of release. Since it was a game I was already interested in, I jumped at the opportunity.

Chris describes the game as a "meditative exploration through shifting circular labyrinths". It is a game that I find hard to frame my thoughts on - Chris' words are certainly accurate, but the game has another quality to it that's a little more difficult to define.

"What I found interesting about creating Expand," notes Johnson in the game's press release, "Is how you can convey a lot of emotion and movement using minimal colours and patterns.

The world can feel seamless as the unfamiliar space revolves around the player with no distinct loading breaks and this unfamiliarity is heightened by the soundtrack that cues off animations to the note.

Against the tide.

When I first spotted Expand, it was from across the showroom floor at PAX Australia in 2014, sitting next to the Assault Android Cactus as part of the Australian Indie Showcase, and I remember stopping for a moment to appreciate the level of diversity that that juxtaposition represented.

A friend of mine had mentioned earlier in the day that they loved the game and suggested I should stop by. I lingered near the booth, hoping to get a moment to chat with the developer, but the crowd of interested players didn't show any sign of dissipating and I watched others play for a while before moving on to catch a panel.

Be aware.

At first, Expand's circular "levels" (I'm not sure if "level" is the best word, but it's what I'm going to use here - they feel more like locations or environments in some abstract kind of way) seem like disjointed movement challenges, but it quickly becomes apparent that you are moving through a some kind of flatland-esque disc-shaped world, with sparse, but evocative cryptic instructions driving you onward through its labyrinthine settings.

The game itself is fairly short (nominally 2 - 3 hours' worth of play), but for something that's so minimalist, it expands out into an experience that feels longer and larger than it is. I'm yet to reach the end, but I feel confident that the game has more to tell and show me.

The game's gamepad inputs are simple - move an analogue stick to guide your avatar in that direction. The keyboard inputs are unexpectedly different, however, with right for clockwise rotation, left for counter-clockwise rotation, up for ascending towards the centre, and down to descend away. This is due to some coordinate wrangling hurdles that are easier to overcome with analogue axes than binary key presses. I generally find gamepads unpleasant to use, but in this case, I opted for gamepad controls.

Patience is needed.

There's something relaxing about watching people play Expand. It gives a sense that it's a game best played when you're at peace and can let the world drift away. There are points in the game that are timed (and some points where that timing becomes tight), but in the 5 hours I've spent in the game, I'm yet to find it to feel reflex oriented. Typically, Expand gives players plenty of time and space to observe and understand the challenges ahead.

In the event that the player does slip up, the level's shapes cycle and rewind back to the position of the most recent checkpoint, but offset slightly from its location when you passed there previously. This subtle, but significant change means that repetitive strain is lessened by having slightly different sets of movements to make, and over time evens out any inherent difficulty that might be caused by orientation (if you've ever tried to draw a circle, you might have found that you have an easier time drawing them in one direction than the other. After playing Expand for a little while, I began to wonder whether there were particular movements that I was less "good at" on particular orientations - thanks to this rotation on failure I never felt like that was handicapping me).

There are periods in the game where the placement of checkpoints feels sparse (particularly towards the end of a set of locations). While this means that these sequences can and will take a little longer, the value of preserving pacing and flow makes this choice feel justifiable.

Be close.

Outside of the menu, Expand's soundtrack feels dynamic and full, bringing a sense of atmosphere whilst also enhancing the sense of deliberateness that the movement of each scene's elements has as they dance and oscillate in time with the melodies.

"With Expand," says composer Chris Larkin, "We didn’t want to be bound by traditional narrative structures or characters. This is echoed in the soundtrack where core melodies create a slow emotional anticipation and, in combination with the minimalist art style, it allowed us to explore and evoke different moods without the constraints of a pre-defined genre or story."

"Like the game design, the approach to composing the music has been that of intuition. Consequently the result is something that is very personal to us."

I think I've found a word for that quality I couldn't describe earlier. I think it might be intimacy. It's clear that Expand is a labour of love and while I have never personally met either Chris, I feel somehow connected to them after playing an hour of this game.

And keep moving.

After a quick exchange this afternoon, I assisted Johnson in identifying and resolving a Linux specific multi-monitor issue. It turns out that he's a Linux user himself and that Expand was 90% developed on Elementary OS (I'm assuming that the remaining work was done on Windows and Mac whilst porting and fixing platform specific bugs). He uses Vim as his development environment and builds with Clang. It's always refreshing to discover a new Linux using developer, and this lead me to look at Chris' previous work.

Pouring over Johnson's previous games, one in particular stood out to me, a monochrome game with a circular playing field called Everything Shall Come to an End, which was made for a game jam in 2010. It is simple and lacks music, but it's easy to see that the raw seeds of Expand were sewn back then, and have since grown into something polished and grand.

"We essentially created Expand to highlight how a beautiful world can be created using only simple variations on game rules and environments," says Johnson.

Expand will certainly not suit everybody. Its slow pacing and thoughtfulness set it well apart from games like Super Hexagon that may superficially look similar. I'm very glad to have spent time with Expand though, and for anybody else who's interested, the game is releasing today on Steam, Humble Store and http://hypernexus.itch.io/expand.

(I originally published this on the 1st if October 2015 at GamingOnLinux)
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19 of 23 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.0 hrs on record
Pre-Release Review
Posted: September 30, 2015
I need to say something before this review. Are you interested in Expand? Have you already looked at the Steam page and thought “That seems really cool and something I’d be interested in?” If so, here’s my recommendation. You stop reading this review, you buy expand and play it. Note that is my recommendation and not a guarantee that you will like the game, but I feel that if you are probably going to play this game anyway that you shouldn’t watch this review before you’ve played it. I do think that this review will, in whatever small way, take away from your experience of the game. I’ll say now that I think this game is incredible, but if you don’t trust me maybe try and look up some other reviews and try to only look at the score. If you still aren’t comfortable with that, then yeah, read the rest of this review, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Expand has a relatively unique and mind-boggling gimmick, that is, the whole game takes place in this weird infinite circle that you can’t escape from. As I began playing I felt like it was gonna be this relaxing experience. I felt myself getting into the game, but it was really mellow for the first 5-10 minutes. The game then opens up into, hilariously, a kind of open world. It’s really odd. You’ll find that this infinite hell-scape really messes with your head, or at least it did for me.

So the game is pretty much split into four sections, each with their own theme and mechanics. The game does a really good job of toying with your perception of the world, and, at times, it completely subverts your concept of how the world works.

So the gameplay is fun, it’s always switching up, and it’s satisfying to see the level building and folding in, on itself as you play. The other thing is, the game is really difficult. I feel like if you struggle with patterns or making your brain click in a certain way -- like that video of the spinning ballerina that changes direction depending on how you look at it -- if you have trouble switching between the two directions of the ballerina (like I do) then this game is gonna be hard. I found the most difficult thing was wrapping my head around the patterns, and really the answer was to just look at things from another perspective.

So that’s great, you can’t really get that in any other game which is cool but there’s something else that this game does -- and this is the section of the review that I feel might ruin your experience of the game so just be warned about that -- the game has a surprisingly good story. Now that sounds insane, because there are no characters in this game (or well, technically there is but there’s no people), no dialogue, it’s simply abstract shapes moving around the screen. But it does have a story. It’s an incredibly simple one and I won’t tell you what it is, though it isn’t the story itself that is done amazingly well; it’s the execution. At the end of this game I got goosebumps. I was emotionally moved, by weird shapes moving around, topped off with some awesome music. And it wasn’t JUST because of the music that I got goosebumps, it was because I realised what the story of the game actually was.

It’s really really cool. The first thing that comes to mind is Thomas was Alone, but that had dialogue; this game has literally nothing but music and shapes. It’s honestly like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, and I know that anyone who plays it after hearing me say this is not going to enjoy it as much as they would. People should go into this game with no knowledge of any kind of story.

So, do I recommend Expand? Is that even a question? For 6$ I absolutely do.

This review in video form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eav9Z109Lck
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13 of 15 people (87%) found this review helpful
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 23
Relaxing, entertaining and clever gameplay paired with elegant visuals, completed with an amazing soundtrack. A really tight package if you're looking for a innovative and minimalist adventure.
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12 of 14 people (86%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2015
I heard a lot of glowing press about Expand from the gaming press. There was that Mark Serrels Kotaku article comparing two sides of the Australian indie coin: Hacknet and Expand. Both developers revered each others games even if they never saw eye to eye on matters. I bought Hacknet at launch and disliked it intensely. But Expand was visually striking with an interesting base gameplay mechanic: it sounded like a game that I'd be way into. Maybe that should've been a sign. I purchased Expand and in one sitting completed it, feeling wholly unsatisfied with the experience.

While there's an interesting aesthetically-tied gameplay idea at the core of Expand, it feels as if it--excuse the pun--never actually gets expanded upon. It's quite short with a very limited set of light action-puzzle mechanics that oscillate between serviceable uses of the circular mechanic to simply frustrating timing-based puzzles. None of the sets of puzzles and their associated mechanics really feel cohesive or justified in the context of the game's world and feel quite arbitrary. It's never hard enough to be considered challenging or 'masocore', nor is it engaging enough to be enjoyable as an easy going game about exploring this very tightly constructed and authored psuedo-labyrinth.

The game consists of four main levels, your spokes from the main hub world. These levels each have some loosely connected mechanic that ties the stage together. It never feels like you're exploring a labyrinth or maze, it's incredibly straightforward with very little deviation from the critical path. It's always obvious where you need to go, though that's not necessarily a negative. Once all four are complete you go through a kind of gauntlet, each one of these previous elements after one another. Then the game's over. You escape your confines, but not in any interesting or meaningful way. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it just never felt like anything particularly special like I was lead to believe. One somewhat novel mechanic wrung dry over two hours.

I understand that the description calls Expand "meditative" but there's a clear progression and roadblocks that have to be overcome. That adjective is certainly up to the player themselves, it can be a meditative experience if you want. The game's structure seems counter to these goals. I'll go into a figurative trance in games like Flywrench or Mini Metro, but I didn't feel that same draw in Expand.

Visually, Expand is perfectly okay. It's initially enticing with its extreme contrasts, but I think it lacks some kind of... edge? Despite being full of 90 degree angles I think it looks 'soft' in a way that puts me off the more I play it. It has a definite style but it feels tame. It's hard to describe but I think there's more that could be done visually. I never felt a sense of space or continuity, just a series of screens. Adventure for the 2600, an ancestor of sorts, evoked a sense of place more than I felt Expand did.

Circa Infinity, another 2015 release, attempts a similar sort of visual style: black and white, circle-based. Even some of the mechanics appear similar. I find it quite a bit more successful in its execution.

The score to Expand is certainly my favourite part. Chris Larkin's compositions are fantastic and you do get a sense of growth and expansion, of progression which I did enjoy. I'd like to say the evolution of the felt seamless, but there were some very noticeable transitions when entering the next level. It's a very minor thing but very detrimental to the feel of the experience.

One very minor thing I loathed: the options menu being in world. It's an idea that sounds great in concept but is just awful to use. Getting around the 'menu' system is a pain, even when you understand it. It's not immersive.

I think what it comes down to is that Expand feels like a flash game from the mid-late '00s that you'd find on Kongregate or the like. It feels hollow. Expand is a fleeting experience comprised of mechanics that aren't especially interesting or memorable There's no message or tale to be gleaned, not really much to be interpreted. I saw Expand being hailed as an under-appreciated Australian indie gem, but after finishing Expand it feels more like a starved community grasping at straws, trying to get recognised on a global scale.

I wanted to like Expand! It feels like a 'me' game through and through. I didn't.
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12 of 15 people (80%) found this review helpful
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 25, 2015
As a boy, I always loved mazes, and today one of my favorite things about video games is the ease with which they can impossibly manipulate space. So you can imagine what a dream-come-true Expand represents for me as it continuously draws and redraws its maze, repurposing the same canvas over and over again. It appeals directly to the child at the core of me with its beautifully animated clockwork machinations.

The effect is immediately enchanting, but what really surprised me was how dramatic and affecting this experience can be at length. Whether the maze seems to be guiding or daunting you, the flowing rearrangements of its space paired with a dynamically developing musical score create something rather cinematic in style as melancholy piano gradually builds into uplifting chords over encouraging percussion, each step in its evolution magically timed to your actions and progress, eventually reaching a crescendo to accompany a climax of level design.

Expand has been described as a slower Super Hexagon. That comparison may seem helpful on a superficial level, but it fails to meaningfully communicate (or appreciate) the nature of either game. Expand is not an arcade game. It's not a puzzle game. It's an action-adventure game—like a platformer, essentially, although obviously from a different mechanical perspective since it's top-down, gravity isn't a factor, and there are no actions to perform aside from moving with the analog stick. It presents a series of hand-crafted micro-levels, and you simply navigate their hazardous patterns. What makes it so special, however, is the relationship between these "levels."

When you watch its trailer, you might get the impression that Expand consists of a series of discrete stages, but it's not structured that way at all. While the game is divided into labeled sections like "Elude" and "Control" whose mechanisms pleasingly fit within the themes that those names suggest, every bit of the level design itself unfolds smoothly as the circular labyrinth transforms itself around you. The continuous experience created by these seamless changes in the long run captures my imagination so completely and so elegantly that I find this aspect of Expand invaluable and sufficient grounds for recommendation on its own, entirely regardless of its merits as a game.

Yet those merits, too, are strong. The entire game takes place around a circular core—such that lateral movement is actually rotational—and its scenarios explore the action-puzzle ramifications of this concept. For example, an early "room" sees geometry constantly push out from the center in a ripple. To stay ahead of it, you need to move around the circle while remaining as close to the center as possible because it maximizes your rotational speed; if you drift away to the outside of the circle, you will have more ground to cover, fall behind, and get squashed. Later situations add the wrinkle of maze design unfolding as you move closer to the core, as though your perspective were changing with distance. The environment responds to your movement in many other ways, as well; my favorite "device" is when paths open up or close off as you repeatedly revolve around the circle's center. It makes you feel like the brilliant pick inside an incredibly complicated lock.

Just about all of the action in Expand is quickly intuitive, and the whole game moves along at an even pace, aided by generous checkpointing and unobtrusive retries upon failure. It's challenging to the point of being engaging, but it's not a hard game. There are no limited lives or other penalties for failure, so even the most difficult patterns can be practiced repeatedly—although you generally can't brute force your way through because each trial is long enough to test for proper understanding. Overall, Expand is satisfying to complete; but it's not about the challenge—there are no achievements here—it's about the experience, which is remarkably emotional given its abstraction.

Expand is a short game, unlikely to last more than two hours for most players, but that length is just right for it to fully explore its premise. Once it's over, it sticks with you. There's just nothing else out there like it, and, as memorable as it is, I'm sure I'll indulge in regular replays. I never realized how badly I was missing something like this, but now that I have played it I can't imagine my library without it. If you have even a vague interest—if Expand even remotely seems like the sort of thing you might enjoy—I definitely recommend it.
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11 of 14 people (79%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 30, 2015
A truly phenomenal game that ties mechanics and emotions together through clever themed challenges with powerful music. Saying more would simply act to spoil the experience you'll have playing Expand, so just go ahead and buy it. For me this was an experience on par with Journey.
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Recently Posted
2.9 hrs
Posted: October 23
minimalistic and gorgeous
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2.3 hrs
Posted: October 20
The music and super simplistic visuals make this game great. This game is something ive seen many times, yet was so fun and magical that I had to finish it in one sit. This game has a sence of soul in it. As if actual effort and time went into making these puzzles. Another fantastic aspect of this gameis the music. The music, to me, is what makes this game shine. As you progress throught the game the pieces get more and more and more complex as the game's obstacles increase in difficulty. If you want a super relaxing game that you can sit back and play for a couple hours. Pick this up immediatley.

Pick it up now!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
3.3 hrs
Posted: October 15
it's a nice little game, way too short though. I'm glad I bought it on discount.
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2.2 hrs
Posted: October 14
Relaxing and adictive at the same time, this is a beautiful and minimalistic game that'll help you think and relax. Challenging but not overtly so, it is also incredibly satisfactory to advance. You should play this, you'll not regret it.
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1.6 hrs
Posted: October 9
A great little puzzle game with a fantastic soundtrack. Definitely worth a play.
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1.9 hrs
Posted: October 7
This game is beautiful and hypnotic. An emotional journey that presents itself in few words and few colors. I couldn't put the game down until I finished. What really stands out the most is the music. The music in combination with the sometimes relaxing, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes empowering gameplay can put a huge smile on your face. Highly recommend.
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3.6 hrs
Posted: October 7
It's a puzzle game like a slow, complicated version of Hexagon. The music is beautiful and you almost imagine that you're doing something far more epic than moving a square through a puzzle. However, there are levels that are hard. Super hard. Having a controller is basically a must, even though it says that you can use the keyboard.
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0.8 hrs
Posted: October 7
Reasonnably good short game. Good, but not as good as "140", for example. The OST is not very exciting.
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2.2 hrs
Posted: October 4
Expand is a minimalistic game that is just plain hypnotizing. The crazy patterns can get so trippy, but they're fun to look at. This game requires patience. It was frustrating at times, only because I kept making the same mistake and trying to rush through. My favorite part of the game, though, is the music. Soothing, mysterious, and even grand! The track at the end gave me chills! You'll want to pick this up if you're looking for a couple hours worth of a casual game.
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